The name Idia (EYE-dee-ah), might be new to many but her last name may ring a bell. Idia is the daughter of legendary producer and songwriter, Kenny Gamble and veteran artist developer and journalist Dyana Williams.
Idia Gamble was born and raised in Philadelphia, where she remembers frequent trips to the studio with her father. Kenny Gamble says he detected his daughter’s voice and “knack for writing songs at a young age,” believing that to be her “greatest gift.”
The co-creator of “The Sound of Philadelphia” says he believes that everyone is born with a gift and he happens to share the gift of writing music with his daughter, Idia Gamble.
Gamble says he always tells his daughter “The whole world is a song, everything is a song.” He adds “That’s why her name is Idia. You’ve got to have a good idea to start things off with so I said we’re going to name you Idia. You’re going to have many many great ideas. If you come up with the right idea you can change the world, you can change how people feel.”
Idia’s name means “God’s promise fulfilled.” Kenny Gamble recalls the first time he laid eyes on his newborn daughter.
“I was glad the first time I opened my eyes and seen her. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a great thing. It’s really a blessing. Find out what you are here in this world to do,” he said. “I think she is a gift to humanity with her music and her insight ... she’s one-of-a-kind but you know every father would think that.”
He reminisced back to his early years when no one in his family recognized his ability to write until his kindergarten teacher pointed out his poetic writing style. During his teen years, is when he began to recognize his distinct ability for songwriting.
Teaming up with Leon A. Huff in the early 1960s, the pair went on to form their own label in 1971, Philadelphia International Records. The duo wrote and produced 175 gold and platinum records for music icons including Dee Dee Warwick (sister of Dionne), Diana Ross and The Supremes, Jerry Butler and The Temptations.
At the age of 6, Idia made her first recording with musician Lonnie Liston Smith and did background vocals with Jean Carn.
Before she was 9, Idia Gamble formed a group called “Natural.” The group performed at The Black Family Reunion. With help from one of the girls in her group, she wrote her first song titled “It’s Not The Way.” Although the group later split up, this was only the beginning of Idia Gamble’s music career.
The Sound of Philadelphia’s mantra of bringing a message in the music, holds deep value in all of Idia Gamble’s creations, especially in her new album “the self-titled debut is my personal tribute to the Philly Sound,” she shares.
Written with Jamillah Ford, Gloria Burrell, Philip Coward and recorded with producers Ben Ford and Kenny Gamble, her first 15-song album is a rise from pain and loss to self-acceptance and growth in her own womanhood.
“This album is about diversity in my music. There’s diversity throughout the album. It’s very genre-less and it’s a women’s empowerment album. It’s about the 2020 woman and the fact that we can’t be boxed in and it’s an evolution of my music and of music period. It’s also about self acceptance and growth” she says.
The self-titled debut is Idia Gamble’s “greatest source of joy” and the singer is grateful to everyone who made the album possible. She gives a special shoutout to writing partner Ben Ford and of course, her father.
The song “Inspire Me” recounts the resilience of women who “can’t be boxed in,” while her lead single “Kisses” celebrates seduction and also showcases her cultural heritage with the Spanish version of the song.
“I’m half Puerto Rican and I really wanted to express that side of myself and I thought that ‘Kisses’ was a great way to communicate some Spanglish,” she says. Her Puerto Rican roots are tightly embraced and come from her mother and founder of the International Association of African American Music (IAAAM), Dyana Williams.
She embodies sounds of smooth jazz, soul and R&B, drawing influence from legends like Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Etta James, Stevie Nicks, D’Angelo, Barry White, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, Doris Day and “of course all of the Sound of Philadelphia artists,” Idia Gamble says. The singer also finds inspiration in nature and the always changing political climate.
Music is not only an expression of who she is but a means of healing. With the internal battles that Idia Gamble faces, she finds that music holds more of a spiritual space in her life.
“It cleanses my insides. It cleans me,” she explains.
The multitalented Philadelphia native also possesses a skill for painting. At the age of 18, she introduced herself to painting with acrylics then moved to oil. She describes her art style as expressionist and surrealist, with people being her subject of interest. Her surreal style matches that of renowned Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo but showcases a “less violent” side.
The artist wants people to know one thing about her: “I love art. Period,” she says. “Music, painting, jewelry, sculpture, woodwork and that in art, I believe that there are no mistakes. There are no mistakes. If your paint drips a little by the eyes, when you’re trying to make the white in the eyes, now your character has begun to cry. It is not a mistake.”
Idia Gamble’s message holds true to both her paintings and her music.
Music icon Kenny Gamble says he believes that his daughter’s artwork and music are “beautiful and picks up the deepness of her thought.”
Idia Gamble says she is proud to carry her parents’ legacy and share her message with Philadelphia and the world.
Her music can be streamed on YouTube and Apple Music. Behind the scenes, the singer is working on new music, online content, photo shoots for her artwork and a music video for her song “Outsiders,” which both Idia Gamble and her father list as one of their favorite songs.
Kenny Gamble also says he believes her music will have a great impact on the world.
“She is well-versed on world issues, she’s like a soldier to me. I think she’s very much aware of the plight of our community and she is very much aware of the contribution she can make because life continues,” he says. “And so she is part of that chain and we are all part of that chain, keep continuing and find out what you’re here in this world to do.”